Quality of dietary intake at school lunch of middle school students based on socioeconomic status
Ensuring adequate dietary intake at school lunch for optimal adolescent growth and development is important; however, few studies have assessed the quality of dietary intake at school lunch based on socioeconomic status (SES). In the 2005-2006 school year, 6,756 lunch records were completed weekly by random, anonymous students at participating low- and middle-SES middle schools in Harris County, Texas and analyzed for nutrient and food group intake. Independent t-tests of the collected data showed a significant difference (p < .05) in lunch consumption based on SES. Students attending low-SES schools had greater reported intake of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium, and less intake of energy, total fat, and iron than the middle-SES school students. Low-SES school students also consumed fewer foods of minimal nutritional value. However, students at both SES levels are failing to meet overall nutritional expectations set by National School Lunch Program (NSLP) guidelines.